In a little over a fortnight from now, the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh will be a year old. Eleven rounds of military discussions later, it is still to be resolved, with the Chinese reluctant to return to troop locations before the start of the standoff.
The Sunday Express has learnt that on April 9, during the last round of talks at the Corps Commander-level, China refused to pull back its troops from Hot Springs and Gogra Post which, along with Depsang Plains, remain the friction points between the two sides — Indian and Chinese troops and armoured columns had disengaged on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso and the Kailash range in February.
A highly placed source, involved in decision-making all of 2020, told The Sunday Express that at Patrolling Point 15 and PP-17A in Hot Springs and Gogra Post, the Chinese “had agreed earlier” to pull back troops but “later refused to vacate”. In the recent talks, according to the source, China said India “should be happy with what has been achieved”.
At PP15 and PP17A, the source said, the current presence of Chinese troops is of “platoon strength”, down from the “company strength” earlier — an Indian Army platoon comprises 30-32 soldiers while a company consists of 100-120 personnel.
“For movement there, you don’t require paved roads, you can move on gravel tracks. There, the reaction capability is faster,” the…